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PRETORIA: South African police faced further embarrassment at the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius on Friday when it emerged that a valuable watch had vanished from the crime scene and a ballistic expert had handled the athlete’s gun without gloves.

On day 10 of the trial, Colonel Schoombie Van Rensburg, the first policeman to arrive at Pistorius’ home in an upmarket Pretoria estate, expressed his anger at forensic blunders but had his own work called into question by the defence.

Van Rensburg said the missing watch was one of eight found in the house.

“I told the whole forensic team that those watches were a big concern of mine,” he told the court.

“Then one of the forensic experts mentioned that this particular watch, a green and black one, was valued between 50,000 and 100,000 rand ($4,650 to $9,300).

“I went down to the garage, then one of the officers came and mentioned that one of these watches is missing. And I said ‘What do you mean? I can’t believe it. We were just there.’” He said everyone in the house, including all of the police officers present, were then subjected to a body search and their cars were also swept, but the watch had vanished.

In another example of botched police work, Van Rensburg described how a ballistics expert had held Pistorius’ gun in his hands without gloves.

“I was very angry and was not very pleased with what I saw,” he said.

This may not be material to the case as there is no dispute that Pistorius fired the fatal shots. But the overall credibility of the investigation could still prove crucial to the outcome of a trial that has gripped South Africa and is expected to last for several more weeks.—Reuters